Monday, April 6, 2009

NtM - April, 6, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

"And we're so by God stubborn we could stand touchin' noses for a week at a time and never see eye-to-eye."

Good Monday Morning,

It looks like Carmel Councilman Norman Marino and Carmel's Assessor, Paul Jonke are going at it. According to published reports, Councilman Marino, who has been trying to have the assessment on his home lowered, has taken to a bit of what Jonke construes as harassment, following Mr. Jonke around town and just generally being a pain in the butt. To that end, Mr. Jonke signed an official complaint against Marino on March 17th. Yikes! I thought I was reading about Southeast for a moment.

New York's newest State Park is taking shape just a few miles north of us. It's not a place where wildflowers bloom or where bear find caves for their winter slumber. There aren't even any trees or grasses. But that's not what makes it unique. What does is that it sits 212 feet over the Hudson River stretching in a thin, 3094 foot long line between Poughkeepsie and Highland and come this October will connect those two towns for the first time since 1974. It's called Walkway Over The Hudson and will be one of the most unique state parks ever conceived.
Once the park is complete, in the future you will be able to ride a bicycle from Yonkers all the way up through Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties, across this link and then ride down to Maybrook or over to New Paltz and beyond. A rail transportation system that once linked small commuities together is coming alive again in the guise of rail-trails which not only provide weekend entertainment but creates a vital commuter link as well.
Visit their website to keep track of the progress or click on the image to visit the photoblog at their Facebook page.
Overheard at Arts on the Lake during intermission on Sunday:
Man One: "Sheesh. I pay less than this at off-broadway. I just show my Equity card and they let me in for free.
Man Two: "Did they let you in for free here?"
Man One: "No, they didn't even know what my Equity card was!"
Man Two: "Yeah, but you got a better show here."
Iowans certainly aren't in Iowa anymore. Last week their state Supreme Court ruled that discrimination was unconstitutional. Right-wingers across the nation were stunned. How could "activist courts" legislate for the people? Well, perhaps they might have considered what "liberty and justice for all," is supposed to mean. If you side with the rightists, the next time you get to the meaty part of the Pledge of Allegiance, perhaps you might say instead, "liberty and justice for only the things I like."
But there is a silver lining! The Des Moines register reported Saturday that millions of dollars of sales and tax revenue could be generated through tourism and marriage facilities. A business group is projecting an increase of $160 million over the next three years at which point Iowans will either enjoy the notoriety and profits or vote to plunge their state back into the 14th century.

What still surprises me is that we're having this discussion at all.
Recent comments at the blogsite:
And here's what's been posted there since April 1st:
Lastly this Monday morning, if someone you don't know shows up at your door over the next few months, relax. It's either a Census Taker collecting information for the upcoming 2010 census or a politician running for office. Don't shoot either! One of them might be me.

And now, the News:
  1. Putnam DA probes possible voter fraud
  2. Greenway Council to remain its own entity
  3. Birds Can 'Read' Human Gaze
  4. US EPA Awards Nearly a Half Billion Dollar Grant to New York to Create Jobs
  5. Desperately Seeking Mercury
  6. The Crisis of College Affordability
  7. In the Exurbs, the American Dream Is Up for Rent
  8. Archie Green, 1917–2009

Putnam DA probes possible voter fraud

Susan Elan

The county's election commissioners have asked Putnam District Attorney Adam Levy to investigate allegations of possible voter fraud during the November 2008 election.

Levy confirmed that Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner Robert Bennett and Republican Commissioner Anthony Scannapieco Jr. made the request about a week ago.

Levy said his office is investigating charges that could range from misdemeanors to felonies.

"If there is probable cause to suspect that a felony was committed, a case would be presented to a grand jury," said Levy, who declined to provide further details.

Read More

Greenway Council to remain its own entity

ALBANY – A state budget proposal that would have seen the Hudson River Valley Greenway Council and Heritage Conservancy placed under the aegis of the state Department of State has been removed from the final budget.

Assemblymen Kevin Cahill of Kingston and Marc Molinaro of Red Hook teamed up with 17 other state lawmakers, Congressman Maurice Hinchey and Scenic Hudson in order to block the item from the spending plan.

“At a time when regional approaches to governing are being looked to for efficiencies, cost savings and economic development, the elimination of the Greenway would have been a huge step backwards,” said Cahill. “The Greenway plays an essential role in helping our communities protect ecological balance of the region while at the same time stimulating economic growth.”

Since their inception in 1991 by an act of the legislature, the Hudson River Greenway Council and Conservancy have worked to establish voluntary regional planning partnerships with 251 municipalities in 12 counties and New York City.

Read More

Birds Can 'Read' Human Gaze

(Apr. 4, 2009) — We all know that people sometimes change their behavior when someone is looking their way. Now, a new study reported online on April 2nd in Current Biology shows that jackdaws—birds related to crows and ravens with eyes that appear similar to human eyes—can do the same.

"Jackdaws seem to recognize the eye's role in visual perception, or at the very least they are extremely sensitive to the way that human eyes are oriented," said Auguste von Bayern, formerly of the University of Cambridge and now at the University of Oxford.

When presented with a preferred food, hand-raised jackdaws took significantly longer to retrieve the reward when a person was directing his eyes towards the food than when he was looking away, according to the research team led by Nathan Emery of the University of Cambridge and Queen Mary University of London. The birds hesitated only when the person in question was unfamiliar and thus potentially threatening.

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US EPA Awards Nearly a Half Billion Dollar Grant to New York to Create Jobs and Protect Human Health and the Environment

Release date: 04/03/2009

Contact Information: John Senn (212) 637-3667, or (908) 420-8957 cell

(New York, N.Y.) In the single largest grant in its history, the EPA today awarded more than $430 million to the State of New York for wastewater infrastructure projects that will create thousands of jobs, jumpstart local economies and protect human health and the environment across the state.

“EPA is committed to being part of the solution in this economic downturn. By keeping the waterways clean and healthy, we’re bringing new jobs and new opportunities to local communities,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Protecting human health and the environment is a great way to put people to work and stimulate our economy.”

“New York State is committed to innovative approaches to building environmentally sustainable and energy efficient wastewater treatment technologies. This funding will help protect our environment and will support thousands of jobs across the State at a time when we need it most,” said Governor Paterson. “I thank President Obama, New York’s Congressional delegation, EPA Administrator Jackson and Commissioner Grannis for all of their hard work and continued support as we work together towards a path of full economy recovery and environmental protection.”

Read More

Desperately Seeking Mercury

By Joe Rao Skywatching Columnist

After dominating the western evening sky for more than half a year, the planet Venus has now transitioned into the morning sky.  But during April another planet will take its place in the western evening twilight. 

Mercury is often cited as the most difficult of the five brightest naked-eye planets to see.  It's also called an "inferior planet" because its orbit is nearer to the sun than the Earth's.  Therefore, it always appears from our vantage point to be in the same general direction as the sun. 

Since it's the planet closest to the sun, Mercury never strays too far from the sun's vicinity in our sky. Hubert J. Bernhard, who for many years was a lecturer at San Francisco's Morrison Planetarium, noted that Mercury "stays close to the sun like a child clinging to its mother's apron strings." 

Relatively few people have set eyes on Mercury (there is even a rumor that Copernicus never saw it).  While that is certainly true most times of the year, there are other intervals – and we're about to enter one of them – where making a sighting of Mercury requires almost no effort. You simply must know when and where to look, and find a clear west-northwest horizon.

Read More

The Crisis of College Affordability

How the Cost of Higher Education Is Dividing Our Country
By Andy Kroll

A few months ago, Bobby Stapleton, a 21-year-old student at the University of Michigan, received a phone call from his younger brother. The good news came first: a senior in high school, he, too, had been accepted by the university, the fourth sibling in his family to have the opportunity to make the move to Ann Arbor from rural Hemlock, Michigan.

Then came the bad news: his brother had no intention of telling their parents, because as Bobby put it, "he knew the money just wasn't there anymore, and that it wasn't realistic." The financial crisis had plunged the Stapleton family into severe debt. At this point, paying Michigan's modest (by college standards) $11,000 tuition for another child appeared unlikely. As his younger brother told their younger sister, Bobby recalled, "Things were just going to have to be different for the two of them."

Read More

In the Exurbs, the American Dream Is Up for Rent

By CONOR DOUGHERTY for the Wall Street Journal

PLANO, Ill. -- Kim and Robert Discianno had the American dream. Now, they rent a few streets away.

The Disciannos moved from Aurora, Ill., to their home here in Plano three years ago, lured to the outermost fringes of suburbs, known as the exurbs, by the promise of owning their first home. Today, their credit is shot and they no longer own, but Ms. Discianno still has a four-hour commute.

The Disciannos are among many exurban families losing their homes and their grip on the dream of home ownership. The exurbs were among the fastest growing counties during the boom -- entire civilizations built around the idea of owning real estate. With home prices falling and unemployment rising, more people are renting -- just as they had before the boom -- and turning the community into a rental economy.

Many Plano residents in the newer homes are facing foreclosure as a result of rising property taxes based on the need for new governmental and community services.
Photos: Playing Musical Houses

Renting is one of the few ways for people to stay in the area and keep landlords afloat. It can be good for the overall economy because it promotes mobility. When the economy turns downward, renters are more willing than owners to move to a region where jobs are more plentiful.

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Archie Green, 1917–2009

(Ed note: there is no personal relation as far as I know.)

by Nathan Salsburg
Published in the April 1 edition of the Louisville Eccentric Weekly (LEO).

In mid-December, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi received a memorandum from a constituent on Caselli Street in San Francisco. President-Elect Obama had been publicly ginning up support for the stimulus package he would submit to Capitol Hill immediately after his inauguration, and the constituent, 91-year-old Archie Green, had a bit of historical perspective to share with Madame Speaker. He reminded Pelosi that during the New Deal there weren’t just roads paved and bridges built; federal agencies stimulated all manner of American ingenuity and creativity, and reflected the best parts of the country back to itself.

“The Federal Writers Project,” Green wrote, “included a folk unit that both preserved and presented workers’ culture” through photography, recordings, film, and journalism, and he advocated the establishment of a similar cultural unit to document the occupational experience of the current stimulus projects.

Green, who died March 22, was a shipwright, union activist, labor historian, folklorist, record collector, professor, author, a wholly unreconstructed progressive, and the progenitor of the theory and expert of the practice of “laborlore.” Defined as the expressive culture—song, story, slang, and technical know-how—of workers, laborlore blew open the hermetically sealed pantheon of generalized American “folk” archetypes—the Yankee, the Negro, the Indian, the hillbilly, the lumberjack, the cowboy—all of which had long prevailed in both popular and academic consciousnesses. Archie insisted on a deeper, more fluid understanding of American diversity, reflected by the diversity of occupational involvement, and to be seen where any two bodies gather to work a job together, swapping stories, jokes, and expertise. Ingredients of class solidarity and union brotherhood, to be sure, but also, and more essentially, a proud, conscious, and engaged citizenry.

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